HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope spotted the farthest star seen to date.
According to a post by NASA, the telescope detected the light of a star that existed within the first billion years of the universe’s birth. The star is far enough that its light has taken 12.9 billion years to reach Earth.
“Normally at these distances, entire galaxies look like small smudges, with the light from millions of stars blending together,” said Astronomer Brian Welch of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. “The galaxy hosting this star has been magnified and distorted by gravitational lensing into a long crescent that we named the Sunrise Arc.”
The magnified star is named Earandel, which is estimated to be “at least 50 times the mass of our Sun.” According to the post, the star would still not be visible if not for a galaxy cluster named WHL0137-08, that warps the fabric of space, creating a magnifying effect that amplifies the lights of objects behind it.
Earendel is expected to remain highly magnified for years, and will be observed by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope.
“With Webb, we may see stars even farther than Earendel, which would be incredibly exciting,” Welch said in the post. “We’ll go as far back as we can. I would love to see Webb break Earendel’s distance record.”